We recently stayed with our good friend Mei Jingyu in Chiayi. As always, her ever hospitable mother prepared a delicious meal of turnip cake, fried sweet potato, dried tofu, meaty sauce, fresh greens and cabbage soup.
The next morning we visited the rooftop garden where two dishes of the previous evening’s meal were grown.
The rich soil, sub-tropical climate and ample water all make Taiwan a perfect garden. Peoples toil and passion for the soil means every little piece of this island nation sprouts in green.
Each village or district takes pride in their dominant crop. This can be seen by the large replicas of the produce you often see as you enter a village. Pineapple Gaoshu, Taro Keelung, Mango Meishan, Redbean Daliao.
Every good meal is finished with a plate of fruit. A lot of effort is spent in growing it.
Any idle land is quickly commandeered and converted to garden. Often in parks, on sidewalks and spare patches of dirt between paths, someone will have cordoned it off and converted it to greens.
In the park near our place almost all the spare patches of dirt have been converted to small vegetable gardens by some older women.
(As a side note, the sign on the roller door in the background says the house is for rent. These signs are going up at an alarming rate at the moment!)
And here between the elementary school path and the road. Whose land, whose vegetables?
A popular trend has been cultivating fallow fields in flowers and then promoting people to visit them when in bloom. Daliao has done this for a dozen or so fields each of the last two years.
When concrete and pavement makes growing directly in the soil impossible, people scrape dirt into something and grow things anyway.
Having grown up on a broad acre wheat farm it is amazing to see such incredibly productive land.
Though Taiwan is small and the population large, there is no doubt the land is productive enough and the people resourceful enough that there will always be plenty of green in the diet.